Hublot Unveils the MP-15 Takashi Murakami Only Watch Sapphire

A playfully complex creation for the biennial charity auction.

Watches have always served a practical purpose in our lives, but they have also been objects of art. This is the beauty of human culture – a culmination of decades and centuries of craftsmanship, allowing art to breathe vibrancy into our everyday items, including timekeepers, and make our lives more enjoyable.

With the emergence of quartz watches and subsequent smartwatches, the role of traditional mechanical watches undergoes a remarkable transformation, with their practicality taking a backseat while their artistic importance claiming centre stage. The expression of art in watches can take various forms, such as incorporating intricate complications like perpetual calendar-chronograph or featuring intricate miniature enamel painting. But there are those who dare to push boundaries and create art in unprecedented formats. This is precisely where Hublot makes its mark.

Hublot MP-15 Takashi Murakami Only Watch Sapphire
Hublot MP-15 Takashi Murakami Only Watch Sapphire

Embodying its motto, the Art of Fusion, Hublot has invited a diverse array of designers and artists in recent years to blend modern architecture and contemporary art with watchmaking. The outcome is a collection of creations that authentically capture the essence of an era, reflecting a distinct and original expression.

Takashi Murakami at the Hublot Boutique Tokyo
Takashi Murakami at the Hublot Boutique Tokyo

Among Hublot’s collaborations with artists, one creation stands out – the Takashi Murakami edition, showcasing the Japanese artist’s signature joyful and innocent smiling flowers. The original edition, uniquely departing from the artist’s typically vibrant and colourful style with a full black design, quickly became a hit. This success led to the release of several more limited editions, embracing the artist’s true style in various colours. However, all of these editions remained simple, time-only watches. Now, Hublot unveils the brand-new MP-15 Takashi Murakami Only Watch Sapphire, a fresh collaboration featuring a new case, movement, and style conceived for the Only Watch 2023 charity auction.

Hublot MP-15 Takashi Murakami Only Watch Sapphire
Hublot MP-15 Takashi Murakami Only Watch Sapphire

The Low-Down

Similar to the earlier Murakami edition in the form of a Classic Fusion, the MP-15 showcases the flower motif in a prominent manner on the front. However, that’s where the similarities end.

Hublot has designed a new case that resembles a flower, with the silhouette taking the shape of flower petals, adding a dynamic visual appeal to the expression of the floral theme. When viewed from the side, the case gently slopes down, creating a three-dimensional effect that resembles a genuine flower. Notably, the case is crafted from clear sapphire, a signature material for the brand, imparting a sense of lightness and clarity that complements the colourful gemstones set on the petals.

Hublot MP-15 Takashi Murakami Only Watch Sapphire
Hublot MP-15 Takashi Murakami Only Watch Sapphire

With the case and bezel featuring the smiling flower, the dial has taken a back step to be simple, showcasing on the hour and minute hand and also a view into the mechanics. Or is it really?

As it turns out, the dial is just as captivating as the case, if not more so. In a remarkable move, Hublot introduces their first-ever central flying tourbillon, a rarity even among haute horlogerie watchmakers. This innovative concept stems from the vision of Murakami-san himself, and Hublot deserves admiration for going above and beyond by developing a brand-new movement and case to bring this idea to life – all for the purpose of a charity sale. This not only showcases Hublot’s commitment to Only Watch but also demonstrates the brand’s watchmaking capabilities, which have significantly advanced since the establishment of its own manufacturing facilities.

Hublot MP-15 Takashi Murakami Only Watch Sapphire
Hublot MP-15 Takashi Murakami Only Watch Sapphire

The adoption of a central tourbillon may appear to be a simple shift from its usual position at six o’clock to the centre, but its execution is far more complex. As a form of regulator, the tourbillon typically resides at the end of a gear train and encompasses the balance assembly. This is why it is traditionally positioned at the edge of a case, allowing for ample space between the barrel and balance, enabling the gear train to spread out flatly. Relocating it to the centre necessitates a redesign of the gear train to accommodate the limited space. Additionally, the motion works for the hour and minute hands must be repositioned to avoid any clashes with the now central tourbillon.

The sapphire crystal above the central flying tourbillon features a laser-engraved smiley face, completing the look of Murakami's original design
The sapphire crystal above the central flying tourbillon features a laser-engraved smiley face, completing the look of Murakami's original design

In terms of vertical layout, the tourbillon has been raised to the surface of the dial, with the barrel and gear train positioned beneath it. This is particularly noticeable from the case back, where you can observe the twin barrels and crown wheel, deviating from the typical arrangement where the barrel and balance are visible on the same plane. It’s worth noting that the twin barrels provide an impressive power reserve of 150 hours, equivalent to nearly a week’s worth of juice.

Hublot MP-15 Takashi Murakami Only Watch Sapphire
Hublot MP-15 Takashi Murakami Only Watch Sapphire

Tech Specs

Hublot MP-15 Takashi Murakami Only Watch Sapphire

Movement: HUB9015; manual wind; 150 hours power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, and central flying tourbillon
Case: 42 x 13.4 mm; sapphire; water resistant to 30 m
Strap: Rubber strap with folding buckle
Limited edition: Unique piece
Availability: At Only Watch 2023

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